KEEP DRIVING… By now you’re getting desperate. Conoco? Somewhere you read this was the place to go because the company has bought double-hulled tankers to lessen risks of spills. Check first with the indigenous people of Ecuador, who will tell you the story of what happens before the oil is loaded on those virtuous tankers. These days Conoco is owned by DuPont. Enough said. Sunoco? The Sun Company initiated the “cash-for-clunkers” program, as a way of diverting attention from the infinitely more baneful nitrous oxides spewing from refineries and power plants. In fact, the Sun Company was hit in 1994 with the largest fine$1.4 millionever handed down for violations of nitrous oxide emission laws. Anyone pondering whether to stop at Sunoco should drive across eastern Wyoming and have the altogether chastening experience of viewing the Sun Company’s stripmines outside Gillette. The Sun Company has no female or black corporate officers. None. This is the company from which the Pew Charitable Trustslargest funder of mainstream environmentalismsprang. Here comes the fragrance of the past, in the form of the Phillips 66 sign: the memory of Route 66. In the 1940s the Oklahomabased company was actually run by a Cherokee Indian, William Keeler, aka Tsula Westa Nehi. Keeler helped Phillips make a lot of money by drilling on native lands, a practice the company has zestfully engaged in ever since. \(Keeler, however, was the first, and to gerly into Indonesia not long ‘after Suharto and the generals were assisted by the CIA in identifying and killing upward of a million people suspected of being communists or sympathizers of the PKI. Since 1989, the company has been drilling in the Timor Gap, off the coast of East Timor. On its board is Lawrence Eagleburger, who was Kissinger’s aide and undersecretary of state in 1975, when his boss and President Ford visited Jakartathree days before the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Phillips, which maintains hefty military contracts, was one of the companies that sold base chemicals to the Iraqis for manufacture of chemical weapons. A stop at Mobil? It was another Rockefeller company, as Standard Oil of New York. Some companies invest in butchering indigenous people. With its sponsorship of Masterpiece Theater, Mobil has butchered entire cultures. Its Op-Eds and steady flow of full-page ads led the corporate counterattack in the early 1980s. Today Mobil exploits depletion allowances and accelerated depreciation loopholes to pay fewer taxes, so you can pay more. Last year Mobil gained over $2 billion in corporate welfare through this scheme. In addition, Mobil has bilked the treasury out of at least $200 million in unpaid royalties on oil drilled from public lands and off-shore reserves. Mobil’s PAC doles out about a million dollars a year to keep things flowing in their favor. Somewhere recently you read that Amoco might be the gas station to patronize. The company has pulled out of Burma. Maybe you missed the testy crack of Texaco’s CEP, who confided to Ted Koppel that in matters of racial sensitivity, “we’re just the tip of the iceberg. Wait till they look at Amoco.” In fact, when you look at Amoco, you find that among its highest paid employees there are no women or minorities. Everyone remembers the Exxon Valdez, but who recalls the Amoco Cadiz, which spewed 120,000 tons of crude oil off the French coastsix times more than Exxon’s charitable bequest to Prince William Sound. Your car is beginning to sputter, just as the “76” sign looms into view, emblem of Unocal. So, are you going to take on board gasoline from a company which joyfully hailed the fanatic Taliban regime’s takeover of Kabul as likely to bring a firm hand to Afghanistan? A firm hand is craved by Unocal, because the company plans to run a pipeline through the afflicted nation, from Turkmenistan to the sea. Unocal is also the major player in Burma, where it is part of a consortium planning to exploit a natural gas field. To ease transportation of the gas, the Burmese junta has conscripted prisoners to build a railway. Its operations in the states are no better. In 1994, Unocal was convicted on three criminal charges for failing to report massive leaks of phenol and other toxic chemicals at its Guadeloupe oil field in California. The company paid a $5.5 million fine and faces perhaps as much as $50 million in civil damages. Unocal has the lowest number of women and minorities in management of any major oil company. Face it, there’s no “good” oil company, and ethanol won’t come to the moral rescue, if you’ve studied the recent career of Archer-Daniels-Midland. You’d better base your pur chasing decision on essentially whimsical criteria, perhaps judging the dispensing facility by standards of physical security and the nature of its bathrooms. The danger of making “moral” corporate choices was nicely exhibited by the Council on Economic Priorities, whose social profiles of the oil companies the organization kindly faxed to us. At the turn of this year the Council, amid much fanfare, took one particular oil company off its no-no list, on the grounds that the company had shown evidence of a social conscience. The company? Texaco. Jeffrey St. Clair is a freelance writer based in Oregon. excoriated. The company has worked with the Colombian military in order to ensure unimpeded access ‘to 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves the company has leases on. BP recently went through a particularly brutal downsizing, dumping 23 percent of its workers. FEBRUARY 28, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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